Evan Rachel Wood is the voice of Mala, who lives on a planet that is peaceful until humans arrive. (Lionsgate)
A simplistic message movie boasting computer animation well below the industry standard, "Battle for Terra" is a puzzling trifle of a film. It's a pro-environment, anti-war oddity that recalls last year's "Delgo" in terms of pure head-scratching, "what is this?" weirdness.
The story unfolds on Terra, a planet inhabited by a society of floating tadpole-like aliens. They appear to live underwater -- there are even giant floating whales who circle in the skies above -- but it's like the animators never got around to the whole "water" discussion, or ran out of money before they could render any.
The peaceful planet is soon invaded by humans, who've already destroyed Earth and are looking for somewhere new to colonize. When they first arrive by airship, they are mistaken for gods by the Terrians, who are clearly too trusting. Then stuff starts blowing up.
Jim Stanton (voiced by Luke Wilson) crash lands on Terra and is nursed back to health by Mala (Evan Rachel Wood), and the two develop a semi-creepy inter-species friendship. Lessons of tolerance, etc., are passed down with all the subtlety of a computer-animated tablet from the sky, but then the war-mongering humans order more stuff be blown up.
In a world weaned on gorgeous productions from Pixar, the animation in "Battle for Terra" doesn't cut it. The humans look like wads of Silly Putty, and are less lifelike than characters in Sega Genesis games. Meanwhile, the film's muddy anti-war message is clouded by a massive, kamikaze-glorifying battle sequence at the film's end.
"Battle" is preachy, patronizing and cheap-looking. Simply put, it's Terra-ble.